Dragons invest in Business graduates

Business and Public Relations graduates, Omar Farag and Philip Perera have won backing from Dragons’ Den investor Kelly Hoppen for The Box of T company, developed as part of their degrees at LJMU.

The two entrepreneurs, along with colleagues from their degree programme, started the company in their second year as part of the Graduate Enterprise Module. This is an option module which runs across a number of business school undergraduate programmes in collaboration with the LJMU Centre for Entrepreneurship and the Young Enterprise Start Up Programme.

The business sells ethically sourced teas and has taken part in several high profile start-up competitions. It already serves a portfolio of trade clients in the North West and is now in the final stages of a deal with Selfridges to stock its PHOM branded tea range nationwide.

As reported in the Liverpool Echo, Ms Hoppen said:

“The Box of T is a young, vibrant business which I’m truly passionate about, offering high-quality, ethical and delicious products. It gives customer unprecedented access to unique flavours of tea in a way that’s quick and easy. I can see the service being a hit with households and workplaces, as well as restaurants and cafes, around the country.”

The LJMU Graduate Enterprise module gives students a real-life experience of developing a business idea in groups. The use of volunteer business mentors and other support organisations provides students with the opportunity to network with the Liverpool business community and develop valuable employability skills.  The student companies develop a full business plan, test trading and present their businesses at a trade fair.

Philip Perera, Creative Director of The Box of T Ltd said:

“After attending open days at various universities in Europe including Germany, Sweden, Netherlands and UK, I decided that LJMU offered a great theoretical but also a practical approach to business. The Business and Public Relations course appealed to me as it offered a wide range of interesting modules that would prepare me for a fast moving and global economy.

“The Graduate Enterprise Module helped me to understand the basics of running your own business and gave me a great insight of what it is like to run a company. Networking, business mentoring and practicing of business pitches improved my communication skills for the real world business environment.

"The support and advice that we have been given by the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Young Enterprise has contributed to improving the business model.

“During my time at LJMU, I definitely improved my communication skills and ability of presenting myself in front of others, whether it is an interview or pitching to a dragon.”

Keith Thompson, Senior Lecturer on the BA Business and Public Relations programme commented:

“From the very first day when Philip and Omar enrolled on our BA Business and Public Relations degree, it became clear that they had the will and acumen to follow their business ideas through with action. Balancing the rigours of a degree course and a new start up is not easy, but they managed to use what they learned on the modules directly for the benefit of the company. This has culminated in this great success which has now been recognised by Kelly Hoppen in the form of investment and also interest from two other competing ‘dragons.’ We wish them every success as their business continues to grow ‘one cup at  a time.’ “

Young Enterprise NW Start Up Manager, Andy Firr, said:

“I had the pleasure to work with both Philip and Omar on the Young Enterprise Start Up Programme back in 2012/13. It was evident from the beginning that both had the passion and entrepreneurial flair to thrive with their business idea and it’s been a rapid and fantastic journey to see their achievements. I wish them the best of luck, both are personable and likeable and great ambassadors for the programme.”

LJMU students and alumni interested in starting a business can receive free support and advice from LJMU’s Centre for Entrepreneurship. See www.ljmu.ac.uk/startup or call 0151 231 3300 for further details.

Read about their story in the Liverpool Echo  and the Daily Mail

Further information about the company is available at http://www.phom.co.uk/ and you can watch their Dragons’ Den appearance (14 minutes in)

About Us

Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) has over 180 years’ experience educating students in a wide range of disciplines, spanning the arts, humanities, education, health, science and technology and we offer a diverse range of undergraduate degrees, postgraduate taught programmes and research opportunities. Over 95% of research submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 was of international quality or higher, with more than 70% of impact activity rated internationally excellent or world-leading. We are one of the top performing new universities in the UK for Architecture and Built Environment, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, General Engineering, Physics and Sports-Related Studies. LJMU also continues to be one of the UK’s leading higher education institutions for our interaction with business and the community. We are currently ranked in the top 40 UK universities for staff and graduate start-up companies and in the top 20 for spin-off companies.

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The Graduate Enterprise Module helped me to understand the basics of running your own business and gave me a great insight of what it is like to run a company. Networking, business mentoring and practicing of business pitches improved my communication skills for the real world business environment.The support and advice that we have been given by the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Young Enterprise has contributed to improving the business model
Philip Perera, Creative Director of The Box of T Ltd